John Early Is Figuring Out How to Be Sincere

As the star of the sharp new indie ‘Stress Positions,’ the irreverent comic works in a more serious vein. He tells Cracked why he’s getting comfortable with being earnest — even if he’s scared everyone will think he’s pretentious

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Joe Piscopo and Eddie Murphy Made a Hip-Hop ‘Honeymooners’ Record

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Joe Piscopo and Eddie Murphy Made a Hip-Hop ‘Honeymooners’ Record

Even when he recorded his first and only comedy album, New Jersey, Joe Piscopo got most of his laughs imitating other famous people. There’s very little Piscopo on the record — just him doing the impressions that made him a beloved (for 1983) Saturday Night Live cast member. There was Frank Sinatra, David Letterman, Good Morning America’s David Hartman, Andy Rooney, and on the album’s only single, Ralph Kramden getting down on “Honeymooners Rap.” Beat-boxing along as Ed Norton? Piscopo’s SNL pal Eddie Murphy.

“Honeymooners Rap” represented everything terrible about the early days of hip-hop, where a sample of a record scratching told the audience, “You’re in for an urban experience, homeboy.” Computers had just been introduced into music production, so every digital stutter seemed like funk from the future. Combine the black-and-white sitcom humor of The Honeymooners with cutting-edge 1980s musical wizardry, and you get Ralph letting loose with a hilarious No-No-No-No-No-No-No-Norton! 

Piscopo and Murphy reenacted sitcom plots over Rick James-esque samples (more on him later), a surprisingly lazy approach that did little more than rehash old episodes with no attempt at a modern twist. Ralph’s blabbermouth of a mother-in-law is coming to town. Norton teaches Ralph how to play golf. Ralph has to cure Norton of his sleepwalking. The two pals have a poolroom confrontation with a thug named Harvey. It’s like a game of “Hey, remember that one episode?” played with Rob Base and DJ E-Z Rock. 

It’s no shock to learn that “Honeymooners Rap” didn’t burn up the 1985 record charts although Murphy released another single later in the year that did just that — Party All the Time, his collaboration with Rick James (see?), hit #2 on the Billboard Hot 100. Those highs and lows paralleled what was happening in the movies for the two SNL friends — Murphy was becoming the world’s biggest star with Trading Places and Beverly Hills Cop; Piscopo was flopping with duds like Johnny Dangerously. Unsurprisingly, the artists behind “Honeymooners Rap” grew apart. 

“I haven’t seen Joe as much as I used to,” Murphy confessed to Playboy in 1990. “We just went in different directions after Saturday Night Live. He got very heavily into weights. He’s got this young girlfriend and they’re in love, and he lifts lots of weights. Good for him.”

As for Piscopo, he was prepping a buddy comedy with Murphy that he was pretty sure would never get made. (He was right.) “Eddie’s a superstar now, and doing a buddy film would be a step back for him,” he told the Chicago Tribune during the “Honeymooners Rap” summer. “I’m happy just to be his friend.”

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John Early Is Figuring Out How to Be Sincere

As the star of the sharp new indie ‘Stress Positions,’ the irreverent comic works in a more serious vein. He tells Cracked why he’s getting comfortable with being earnest — even if he’s scared everyone will think he’s pretentious

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